Lawns are curious by nature. Originally created by the upper class of the renaissance and indoctrinated into the middle class spawned by the industrial revolution, the lawn serves many purposes. Lawns are an external statement of status, personally and socially. They are statements about our standards of work, lifestyle and our expectations of the neighbors. In a sense, lawns are cosmetic and unnatural however, they have the potential to serve far more than mere superficial purposes. Grooming grass requires physical presence but little mental agility. In the business world and more and more interpersonally, ideas and answers are expected to be instantaneous as the millisecond responses to high speed internet computer requests. Time to contemplate is regarded as down time and wasted or dumb. The inner sanctum of free thought finds few places to abide. The shower is too brief, the men’s or ladies room stop even shorter and random thoughts are forced out while exercising by the hip new gadget known as an Ipod. Perhaps using a lawnmower is the elevation of mind experience needed by western civilization and is exercised subliminally by those who do it regularly.
Patterns are typically followed when mowing the lawn thus liberating the full attention of the mind. . Certainly, people have various attitudes while performing lawn work. The obsessive compulsive may carefully cut on a diagonal and cross cut twice while the ‘waste no time’ folks try to cut in a continuous strip. Opportunities to think about things large and small are overlooked by not merely going slowly back and forth.
Monastic ritual, rich in patterns of prayer and behavior was widely regarded as an enlightened lifestyle of those closest to God. It seems hard to imagine how a person could be a reclusive monk just praying all day, day after day. They would still do chores, read and recreate however, their attitude set the mind free for higher reflection. Turning the mundane but necessary tasks of daily life into productive reflection brings to mind the vaunted skill currently referred to as multitasking. Thinking with a clear mind is not as easy as it sounds with all the clatter available and seemingly unavoidable almost everywhere. Alone in a desert, the distractions faded away for the biblical holy men. Jesus spent forty days in the desert fasting and praying in preparation for the fulfillment of the promise God made with his flesh and blood on Calvary.
Great things need to be conceived in the mind and thought out and planned ahead. A desert, monastery or walking along a beach provides entrée to a place of solitude. Unfortunately few people have convenient access to such as these. Reviewing the past, putting the present into perspective and anticipating ways to make tomorrow a better day are all ways to enjoy the benefits of therapeutic contemplation. Many important revelations are there for the taking by simply slowing down while mowing the lawn.
We are a community of laymen and laywomen who, with vowed Passionists, seek to share in the charism of St. Paul of the Cross through prayer, ongoing spiritual formation, and proclamation of the message of Christ Crucified.